Foothills County, Alberta, Canada (May 19, 2019) — The Canadian Premier League’s opening edition of Al Classico took place on Saturday with FC Edmonton taking their first loss. Cavalry FC hosted FC Edmonton at Spruce Meadows as the two Alberta clubs faced off for the first of five matches this year. The Al Classico name was created amongst supporters of the clubs between the two cities.
Both teams entered this tie undefeated. Cavalry FC was 3-0 and FC Edmonton was 1-0-1 after a draw against Pacific FC the previous weekend.
For Cavalry FC Jose Escalante was out after taking a fall in their previous match against Forge. The Eddies had numerous changes. Tomi Ameobi, the Eddies’ captain, was in the starting lineup for the first time this season. Out of the lineup this week was Amer Didic, Allan Zebie, Randy Edwini-Bonsu and Philippe Lincourt-Joseph.
Allan Zebie was injured last week against Pacific FC. His brother, Bruno Zebie, remained in the lineup this week.
Lincourt-Joseph received a red card last week, so he would’ve been out of this match regardless. One Soccer reported in their pre-game show that Lincourt-Joseph had been given a three-game suspension for his mistimed challenge on Ryan McCurdy.
Welcome to the ⚽️ Battle of Alberta.
— Sandra Prusina (@sprusina) May 18, 2019
Challenging pitch conditions faced the players as the game started in windy and rainy conditions. Cavalry FC dominated the first half keeping possession of the ball nearly two-thirds of the time.
Despite the one-sided possession by Cavalry, FC Edmonton played well defensively only allowing one shot on target in the opening half. Mele Temguia was integral on defense for the Eddies as he cleared several dangerous Cavalry balls from near the goal.
Ramon Soria earned the match’s first yellow after a late challenge into Nikolas Ledgerwood in the 9th minute.
Cavalry FC had numerous chances. They nearly scored in the 16th minute, but Ledgerwood was deemed offside when the whistle blew just before the ball entered the net. Nico Pasquotti was dangerous for Cavalry putting lots of pressure on FC Edmonton. A corner from him in the 30th minute was nearly headed-in, but the ball deflected off an Eddies defender.
Ameobi had a long shot from far out in the 25th minute that went wide to the right of the goal.
Meanwhile, the opening goal came in the first minute of extra-time. Jordan Brown redirected the ball into the bottom right corner of the net after his first shot was blocked. Elijah Adekube directed Brown’s rebound towards the net. With goalkeeper Connor James committing to Adekube’s shot, Brown’s redirection sent the ball in the opposite direction of a diving James.
This was Brown’s second goal of the season.
Commenting on the goal in the post-game press conference, Edmonton head coach Jeff Paulus said, “It was our mistake. We should have played the ball deep into their half.”
Instead, the Eddies had tried to press the ball up the field and turned over the ball.
“That mistake’s on us,” he said.
The second half was very different from the first half. After allowing Cavalry to dominate possession of the ball in the first half, the Eddies dominated in the second half, as full game possession ended with a nearly 50/50 split.
Two key substitutes helped turn the play around for Edmonton. Oumar Diouck started the second half for the Eddies, taking the place of Ajeej Sarkaria. Marcus Velado-Tsegaye came into the game halfway through the first half. This was his first professional game, replacing Ajay Khabra.
In the opening minute, Diouck fouled after bumping Jonathon Wheeldon, when they both chased a ball heading into the Cavalry zone. Diouck nearly scored a few minutes later. He was called offside when he went past the last Cavalry defender.
Velado-Tsegaye created a couple of chances almost immediately. He had a shot on net in the 70th minute that Cavalry goalkeeper Marco Carducci managed to tip the ball wide of the net. A couple of minutes later Velado-Tsegaye had an excellent ball towards the net from a Son Yongchan throw-in that again challenged Carducci.
— FC Edmonton (@FCEdmontonNow) May 18, 2019
FC Edmonton First Loss
In the end, FC Edmonton was not able to get the ball past Carducci to tie the game in the second half, allowing Cavalry their fourth win in a row. Cavalry FC remains undefeated, while FC Edmonton suffered their first loss.
FC Edmonton’s next game will be May 29 at Forge FC. This will be the team’s second match in qualifying for the CONCACAF League, which starts this summer.
Edmonton’s first Canadian Championship match will take place, June 5, as they await the winners between AS Blainville and York 9 FC.
The next Al Classico will be at home on June 15. The Eddies will certainly want to prove they can do better as this provincial rivalry continues.
Photo courtesy of Joe McMaster/Last Word on Soccer.